Lafayette’s Computing and Networks Acceptable Use Policy requires that users comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, including laws pertaining to copyright.

Campus network users who violate copyright law by using file-sharing programs to exchange music, videos, software, or other digital content without the consent of the copyright owner risk losing network access; repeated violations will result in disciplinary action.

When the college receives a violation notice stating that copyright infringement has been detected on Lafayette’s network, Information Technology Services (ITS) notifies the network user that they must remove or disable access to the infringing material on their computer. Upon a second notification to a student, network access for their personal computer will be suspended and the matter will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for appropriate disciplinary action. Upon a second notification to faculty or other employee, the appropriate senior officer of the college will determine the action to be taken. Lafayette College will terminate all network access for anyone who repeatedly infringes on the rights of copyright holders.

FAQ: Copyright law and the illegal use of file-sharing programs

Q: What is copyright?
A: Copyright is legal protection of intellectual property provided by the laws of the United States. Copyright applies to works in all media, not just print, and it covers all forms of a work, including its digital transmission and subsequent use. One of the most common forms of copyright violation involves downloading or sharing songs and movies from the Internet without the express consent of the copyright owner.

Q: What is the law concerning digital copyright?
A: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) obligates the College to block access to infringing material when a copyright violation is reported. Members of the community who engage in illegal file-sharing are subject to civil penalties from copyright owners as well as disciplinary action from the College.

Q: Is sharing and downloading music files and videos illegal?
A: File-sharing is illegal when it involves copying or distributing copyrighted materials, usually music and movies, but also TV programs, text, games, software, and images, without permission from the copyright owner.

Q: What kinds of activities violate the federal law?
A: Here are some examples of copyright infringement that may be found on a network:

  • You make an MP3 copy of a song because the CD or audio file you bought expressly permits you to do so. But then you offer your copy online using a file-sharing program so others can download it.
  • You join a file-sharing network and download unauthorized copies of copyrighted music from the computers of other network members.
  • You make a movie or large segment of a movie available on a Web site without permission of the copyright owner.

Q: How is copyright infringement detected?
A: The representatives of copyright owners, such as the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), regularly scan the Internet for file-sharing programs (for example, BitTorrent, Gnutella, and Ares) that exchange music, films, or software belonging to the copyright owners they represent. If copyright infringement is detected, they send a violation notice to the owner of the network where the unlawful file-sharing has occurred. The violation notice contains information that can be used to identify the network location of the offending computer.

Q: What happens if the violation notice leads to your computer?
A: When Lafayette receives a violation notice, Information Technology Services notifies the network user that they must remove or disable access to the infringing material on their computer; otherwise, their network connection will be turned off. Upon a second notification to a student, network access for their personal computer will be suspended, and the matter will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for appropriate disciplinary action. Upon a second notification to faculty or staff, the Provost or the College’s General Counsel (respectively) will determine the action to be taken. Lafayette College will terminate network access for anyone who repeatedly infringes on the rights of copyright holders.

Q: I need to disable file sharing on my computer, how do I do that?
A: Each peer-to-peer client works differently. The University of Chicago has guides online for disabling the most popular file sharing programs. These guides should be used as a reference, do not contact the University of Chicago for assistance; Lafayette students and employees should contact the Help Desk at help@lafayette.edu or (610) 330-5501.

Q: To whom should copyright infringement be reported?
A: Lafayette’s agent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is: